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Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department sets a target time limit in which to reply to Members’ inquiries about tax credits on behalf of their constituents; and if he will make a statement. [124270]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs as a Department aims to deal with 80 per cent. of all correspondence within 15 working days and 95 per cent. of correspondence within 40 working days.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credits recipients have encountered problems with (a) payments being transferred into their bank accounts and (b) receiving manual payments due to technical problems with the Tax Credit Office computer system since 1 April 2005. [124271]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not available in the format requested.


Agenda for Change

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to increase the resources made available to the NHS to support the implementation of (a) Agenda for Change, (b) the consultants’ contract and (c) the general medical services contract in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08; what the overspend was on each of these contracts in (A) 2004-05 and (B) 2005-06; and whether she anticipates spending on these contracts exceeding their funding envelope in 2006-07. [106073]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We have no plans to further increase the funding already made available for the implementation of agenda for change, which rises from £950 million in 2005-06 to £1,390 million in 2006-07 and to £1,780 million in 2007-08. Estimates based on a sample of trusts in 2005 suggested that in the first 12 months earnings costs exceeded those forecast by around £120 million or 0.5 per cent. of the agenda for change paybill, with at least a further £100 million in additional hours and leave costs. Actual costs for 2006-07 will depend on experience of the operation of the new Agenda for Change pay progression arrangements.

We invested additional recurrent funding to meet the costs of the consultant contract over the three-year period from 2003-04 to 2005-06, and have no plans to further increase the funding already made available. Representations from trusts in late 2004 suggested that the costs of the consultant contract had exceeded plans by around £150 million, mainly due to higher levels of programmed activities. We uplifted the tariff for 2005-06 by this amount, although evidence obtained subsequently suggested an excess cost of the order of £90 million rather than £150 million.

The cost of the general medical services contract in 2006-07 is currently estimated to be £7.8 billion. This is
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an increase of £0.1 billion over the previous year. Information on 2007-08 costs and funding is not yet available.

Information on the general medical services contract spend, based on actual audited figures for 2004-05, indicates an overspend of £155 million. Current forecasts, based on primary care trust returns, indicate an overspend in 2005-06 of £252 million. Latest forecasts available for 2006-07 suggest that primary care trusts will manage overall spend within their allocations.

Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been allocated to Enfield primary care trust for alcohol treatment for 2007-08. [119535]

Caroline Flint: The Department has allocated £384 million to Enfield primary care trust (PCT) in 2007-08, of which £1.5 million is separately identified to support various “Choosing Health” White Paper initiatives including alcohol treatment services. However, PCTs are responsible within the national health service for commissioning and funding services for their resident populations. It is for PCTs to determine how to use the funding allocated to them to commission services to meet the healthcare needs of their local populations.

John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many casualties were admitted to (a) Sunderland Royal hospital, (b) Hartlepool University hospital and (c) Durham University hospital owing to drink-related injuries in each of the last five years; and how many casualties were treated in the accident and emergency departments of each hospital for drink-related injuries in each of the last five years. [121258]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected centrally.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the consumption of antibiotics in England for medical purposes was in each year since 2004. [111521]

Caroline Flint: The estimated cost of antibiotics dispensed in hospitals and in the community in England in 2004 and 2005 is shown in the table:

2004 2005

Community dispensing—net ingredient cost



Estimated hospital cost



Estimated total



Community dispensing data are taken from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system and use the British National Formulary (BNF) definition of Antibacterial Drugs, section 5.1. Hospital cost data are provided by IMS Health and include drugs from the same BNF section.

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Blood: Haemophilia

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the first adverse liver result related to the use of blood products with haemophilia was reported under the terms of the Medicines Act 1968 and subsequent legislation; and if she will make a statement. [119893]

Caroline Flint: Reports of adverse reactions to medicines are collated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) through the voluntary spontaneous reporting scheme, the yellow card scheme.

The first report of hepatitis (liver inflammation) associated with the use of a factor VIII product was received by the MHRA via the yellow card scheme in 1976.

Before 1986, some blood clotting factor preparations were contaminated with hepatitis C virus, because blood clotting factors were derived from pooled blood received from many different blood donors. Some people with haemophilia who received blood clotting factor concentrates before 1986 were infected with the hepatitis C virus. However, commercial heat-treated factor VIII products became widely available in 1984 and from the beginning of 1986 all commercial factor VIII products authorised for use in the United Kingdom were made from screened plasma and heat treated to prevent transmission of hepatitis and HIV viruses.

Blood: Screening

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many primary care trusts operate community blood test clinics; [118046]

(2) which primary care trusts have moved blood testing services from community-based clinics to hospital facilities. [118047]

Caroline Flint: This information is not collected centrally. The provision of phlebotomy services (where patients give blood samples for testing) is a matter for the national health service to decide locally in the light of clinically appropriate practice and efficient service delivery.


Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the costs and benefits of providing free condoms in GP surgeries. [121537]

Caroline Flint: No formal assessment of the costs and benefits of providing free condoms in general practice has been undertaken but it is a key aim of the Government to improve sexual health by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and spread of sexually transmitted infections. The national health service already issues around 38 million free condoms each year. While general practitioners are unable to issue condoms on prescription, many GP surgeries already issue free condoms as part of locally agreed condom distribution schemes with primary care trusts.
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We welcome these partnerships. As well as providing access to condoms through general practice, we must ensure that they are easily accessible at appropriate places and venues to those at highest risk.

Departments: Equal Opportunities

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department has (a) a gender strategy and (b) a gender equality action plan in place. [125056]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 2 March 2007]: The Department’s single equality scheme sets out the way in which the Department intends to meet its duties under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 as amended by the Equality Act 2006. The Department will also progress action on religion or belief, sexual orientation and age through this scheme.

This single equality scheme outlines how the Department will address the various aspects of the three duties, including the gender equality duty, specified in the legislation. This includes specific gender strategy and action plans and the way in which the Department will conduct its equality impact assessments (EqlAs). Information gathering to support EqlAs will including monitoring data, consultation processes and research.

Implementation of the scheme will be monitored as part of the mainstream business planning process. Progress will be reported to the Permanent Secretary and the lead Minister of State for Health with responsibility for equality and human rights, the Departmental Management Board and the Corporate Management Committee on a six-monthly basis by the Director of Equality and Human Rights.

The Department has established a gender advisory group to

Diversity Training

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to her Department was of diversity training during (a) 2002 and (b) 2003; what programmes took place and at what cost, in 2006; and if she will make a statement. [115727]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Precise information about the Department’s spending on diversity training is not held as the costs of training are recorded in aggregate.

No specific training programmes on diversity were held in 2006, although as part of its single equality scheme, published in December 2006, the Department is developing plans to deliver further equality training to staff during 2007.

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Drugs: Rehabilitation

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has recently been allocated by her Department for drug services in (a) Bristol, (b) Birmingham, (c) Manchester, (d) Liverpool and (e) Leeds for 2007-08. [121174]

Caroline Flint: The pooled drug treatment budget for 2007-08, for Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds is as follows.












Family Planning

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps her Department is taking to ensure women and men have access to community contraceptive services; and if she will make a statement; [121576]

(2) what consideration her Department has given to (a) setting a target for and (b) allocating more resources to reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies among women over the age of 25; and if she will make a statement. [121571]

Caroline Flint: The Government acknowledge that the provision of contraception is an essential health care service. In “Choosing Health: Making healthy choices easier”, the Government acknowledged that contraceptive services need to be developed and modernised, and made a commitment to undertake a baseline review of service provision. The results of this review will be produced very shortly. In addition we will publish accompanying best practice guidance on reproductive health care in the spring.

Assessment of performance against national targets is a component of the “quality of services” element of the Healthcare Commission's annual healthcheck. In 2006-07 one of the indicators is for Reproductive Healthcare which includes a series of questions for primary care trusts (PCTs) on access to contraception for women of all ages, including those aged over 25.

Additional investment for contraceptive services has been allocated with Choosing Health funding for PCTs in 2006-07 and 2007-08. However, it is for PCT to determine what level of contraceptive service they provide, from whom they commission the services and the level of funding for services, in order to meet the needs of their local population.

Food: Labelling

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment the Food Standards Agency made of (a) barcode scanners, (b) calorie calculators and (c) other electronic devices in its approach to food labelling. [119554]

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Caroline Flint: Within the context of the European Union review of food labelling, the Food Standards Agency is considering the issue of how information is presented to the consumer. Developments in new technology and their potential benefits in the provision of consumer information are one aspect of this.


Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what expert advice was received by the Department of Health about the psychological impact of informing people with haemophilia (a) of their increased risk of developing vCJD and (b) that they were considered an at risk group for public health purposes; what steps were taken to ensure that psychological support would be available to those affected; and if she will make a statement. [119895]

Caroline Flint: The notification exercise by the Health Protection Agency was delivered through the clinicians who treat people with haemophilia and bleeding disorders. These specialist clinicians are the best placed to advise their patients, to counsel them and to present information about risk.

In advance of the notification exercise the United Kingdom haemophilia doctors association, in consultation with the haemophilia patients' association, was asked for and provided its views on the handling of the notification exercise.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many meetings officials have had with strategic health authority chief executives on the service level agreement applied to the provision of Recombinant Factor VIII to haemophiliacs; and whether the service level agreement has been finalised. [115777]

Caroline Flint: On 12 February 2003 the Government announced an extra £88 million over three years to extend the availability of recombinant (synthetic) clotting factors for adult haemophiliacs in England. To help extend the availability of recombinant, the Government provided the following additional funding:

£ million







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